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A golden ticket: Efforts to diversify Boston's elite high schools spur hope and outrage
Exam schools loom large as symbols of opportunity and inequality in American public schools. Now, the nation's twin crises are shaking them to their
IMage: Protesters call for Boston schools to keep admission exam for elite
schools outside of the Boston Latin School on Oct. 18, 2020.
Protesters call for Boston to keep an admissions exam for elite public
schools, including Boston Latin School, on Oct. 18.Jessica Rinaldi / Boston Globe via Getty Images file
March 17, 2021, 4:00 AM CDT
By Melissa Bailey, The Hechinger Report
This article about exam schools was produced by The Hechinger Report, a
nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and
innovation in education. Sign up for Hechinger's newsletter.

Emily Chan is in the sixth grade, the crucial year to get into one of Boston's three exam schools, which serve grades seven to 12. In the past, the
pressure of the entrance test has been intense, and Emily wasn't planning to apply.

But for the first time in nearly 60 years, students won't have to sweat
through an exam to land a spot. Instead, Emily was invited to apply based on her pre-pandemic academic record. So she threw her name in for all three

Emily, 12, lives in Boston's South End with her parents, a homemaker and a
cafeteria worker, both immigrants from China. Her mother, Meifeng Jiang,
said she hopes a golden ticket to one of the city's top-ranked schools will set Emily on a path to become a doctor.

"I just want her to succeed, to have more opportunities," Jiang said through a Cantonese translator. Emily, who loves math and wants to be a pharmacist, said that she's nervous about how hard the classes may be but that she's
eager for a "better education."

IMage: Meifeng Jiang with her daughter, Emily Chan, 12, who is one of about 3,000 students vying for seats in Boston's exam schools this year.
Meifeng Jiang with her daughter, Emily Chan, 12, who is one of about 3,000
students vying for seats in Boston's exam schools this year.Courtesy of
Meifeng Jiang
The one-year change in admissions policy was prompted by the pandemic and a desire to diversify the selective schools, in which Black and Latino
students are underrepresented. For the first time, the city plans to use ZIP codes to place students, along with their GPAs, with priority given to low-income areas.

The move is spurring hope among school desegregation advocates who want the exam schools to look more like Boston's public schools overall. But the
temporary change has also been met with outrage: Some say eliminating the
tests could destroy the very backbone and utility of exam schools.

In Boston, protests have erupted over whether the new admissions process is fair, especially to white and Asian students in neighborhoods that stand to lose seats in the schools. (The South End, where Emily lives, is projected
to lose several seats, although the change also opens up opportunities to
local students who were previously reluctant to take the admissions test.) A group of parents sued last month to stop the change; a trial kicked off in federal court this week.

"Covid is a fake cover story for those who want to kill the exam," said
parent activist Darragh Murphy, a white woman who attended Boston Latin
School in the 1980s. The new policy stands to degrade academic standards and exclude students based on race, she argued, calling it "a backdoor attempt to dismantle the exam school system altogether."

Students more stressed during pandemic, study shows
Ninety percent of graduates at the city's exam schools — Boston Latin
Academy, Boston Latin School and the John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science — go to college, compared with 55 percent in the rest of the
district, according to state data from 2019. Black and Hispanic students
make up only 21 percent of students at Boston Latin School, the city's top-
ranked school, but 72 percent of the district. They are 48 percent of
students at Boston Latin Academy and 66 percent of students at O'Bryant.

"That disparity in access to high-quality elite education is deeply
concerning," said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights in Boston.

Debates over racial segregation in exam schools were already raging around
the country before the chaos of the pandemic hit. Over 100,000 high school
students were enrolled in 165 competitive, academically selective schools in 30 states, most of which used exam results for admissions, researchers
Chester Finn Jr. and Jessica Hockett found in 2012.

While exam schools are a small subset of American schools, they loom large
symbolically, both as free tickets to success in college and career and as
elite institutions that can widen societal inequalities in some of the
country's neediest districts. They're the most prominent part of a wider
group of selective public middle and high schools — which base admissions
on factors like grades, attendance and state test scores — in which poor,
Black and Latino students are typically underrepresented. In many cities,
such schools are the pinnacle of academic tracking systems that sometimes
begin sorting children by age 4.

Now, as districts grapple with the fairest way to handle selective school
admissions during the pandemic, when students' lives have been upended and
many other in-person tests are being canceled for fear of coronavirus
transmission, the debate over what to do about exam schools has become even louder and more urgent.

Related: Why decades of trying to end racial segregation in gifted education haven't worked

Decisions to change decades-old admissions practices come during a
nationwide racial reckoning over the systemic oppression of Black Americans. They raise questions about what public schools are for: sorting students,
giving everyone an equal opportunity or somehow both? Debates about the
schools also highlight the conflict for school leaders over how to support
higher-achieving students without creating a two-tiered system that
perpetuates racial oppression.

In San Francisco, Lowell High School is going through perhaps the most
dramatic change, replacing merit-based screens with a lottery, after racist incidents contributed to calls to diversify the school. In Alexandria,
Virginia, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology scrapped
its entrance exam and is conducting a "holistic review" of applicants based on their GPAs, essays and other factors. New York City's school district
lifted academic admissions screens for middle schools but kept its entrance exam for selective high schools.

IMage: Parents and students demonstrate New York Mayor Bill De Blasio's
plans to remove a standardized test for admission in city's elite public
schools on Sept. 9, 2018.
Parents and students demonstrate in response to New York Mayor Bill de
Blasio's plans to remove a standardized test for admission to the city's
elite public schools on Sept. 9, 2018.Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images file
In Boston, the new process will award the first 20 percent of exam school
seats to top-performing students citywide based on GPAs. The remaining seats will be divvied up by ZIP code, with lower-income ZIP codes given highest
priority. To get into the applicant pool, students had to earn at least a B average in English and math or have scored at grade level in those subjects on state tests before the pandemic hit.

The process opens admissions to students who may not have known about the
entrance exam, didn't see themselves as belonging at the schools or weren't able to pay for test prep classes. The district's explicit goal is to create more "racial, socioeconomic, and geographic diversity" in the exam schools, which includes boosting Black and Latino student enrollment.

But will it work?

As students await school placement in April, it's unclear whether more Black and Latino students will enroll in the short term and whether the change
can withstand legal challenges and last beyond the pandemic.

A 'fair opportunity'

A group called the Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence is suing Boston Public Schools in U.S. District Court, arguing that the new exam
school admissions policy violates students' constitutional rights by using
ZIP codes as a proxy for race and ethnicity. The suit was filed in late
February on behalf of 14 sixth grade students of white, Asian and Indian
descent who applied to exam schools this year.

The process will "artificially favor Latino and African American students to the detriment of Asian and white students," the suit reads. The suit asks a federal judge to halt the admissions process and instead order the schools to admit students based on GPA alone.

"As parents, we want our children to have a fair opportunity to earn
admission to the exam schools and enjoy the unsurpassed educational
opportunities those schools offer," Bentao Cui, president of the parent
group, said in a news release.

Boston Public Schools spokesperson Xavier Andrews declined to comment on the lawsuit.

A group of civil rights organizations, including the NAACP Boston Branch,
the Greater Boston Latino Network, the Asian Pacific Islanders Civic Action Network and the Asian American Resource Workshop, as well as three families of color, are intervening in the lawsuit to try to uphold the new admissions process.

For more in-depth reporting, download the NBC News app

Espinoza-Madrigal of Lawyers for Civil Rights, which is representing the
intervenors, said before the lawsuit was filed that there's "a tremendous
sense of urgency for us" to help Black and Latino students gain access to
high-quality education, especially during the pandemic, when many families
face food and housing insecurity. "We see the exam schools as a viable
platform for families to escape poverty."

José Valenzuela, who is Latino, enrolled in Boston Latin School in 1997,
the final year a racial quota was used in admissions before it was
overturned in court. He said he has been saddened to see the numbers of
Black and Latino students dwindle since then. He said he agrees that Boston ZIP codes can be a proxy for race, because Boston is so segregated. But they're a useful and legal tool to diversify enrollment, he argued.

"We have far too many kids in the city who just need an opportunity like I
did, to go to a school that pushes them," said Valenzuela, who teaches
history at Boston Latin Academy.

Khymani James, 17, a Black senior at Boston Latin Academy and former student member of Boston’s School Committee, said he opposes entrance exams
because Black and Latino students don’t have the same resources as other
students to prepare for, take and succeed on the tests.

He said he'd rather “abolish" the exam schools and equitably fund all
public schools. But he said he supports the new ZIP-code based admissions
policy, calling it "the best route to diversifying our exam schools.”


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He said the lawsuit made him angry.

“We have the white and Asian parents going to court saying, ‘My child is
being discriminated against,’ because Black and Latinx students are finally being given a chance to succeed?” he said. "That’s sad."


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Boston Latin School, the nation's oldest public school and one of its most
prestigious, has an alumni association with a full-time staff and an
endowment of over $60 million, officials said. The largest of the city's
exam schools, it boasts 26 Advanced Placement courses, including Latin and
music theory.

Once they enroll, Black and Latino students at Boston's exam schools are as likely as their white counterparts to stay enrolled through the 12th grade, said Melanie Rucinski, a doctoral student at the Harvard Kennedy School who co-authored a 2018 report on the topic. But Black and Latino students have
faced obstacles at every step of the admissions process to Boston exam
schools, she found.

Related: Should we screen kids' genes to 'predict' how successful they'll be in school?

Until this year, admissions were based half on the Independent School
Entrance Exam, or ISEE, and half on GPA. Black and Latino students were less likely than their white and Asian classmates to take the exam — and those who did scored lower than white and Asian students with similar fifth grade state test scores, the report found.

One reason Black and Latino students may not have been choosing Boston Latin School is a "harsh and unwelcoming" school culture for Black and Latino
students, said Zoe Nagasawa, an Asian American senior at Boston Latin School who interviewed students for a report she co-authored last summer. School
culture affects whether students apply and decide to attend, and those
decisions affect school culture, she found.

In 2016, students at Boston Latin School came forward with accounts of
racial hostility on campus, sparking a movement dubbed "#BlackatBLS" that
drew national attention. The U.S. Attorney's Office for Massachusetts found that the school violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to respond appropriately to allegations that a student threatened to lynch a Black
classmate. The U.S. attorney's office also found that the school meted out
discipline inconsistently. The headmaster and the assistant headmaster

The incidents "would not have taken root if there had been a critical mass
of students of color at the institution," Espinoza-Madrigal said, calling it another outcome of a biased admissions process.


Gifted classes drive inequality. But what happens when schools get rid of
His group sent a letter to the district in 2019 alleging racial
discrimination in exam school admissions. Early last year, the district
decided to scrap the ISEE test. Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said the
exam was unfair because it tested material that wasn't taught in Boston
Public Schools and thus required outside preparation. The district opted to switch to a new entrance exam, the Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP.

But "then the pandemic hit," Cassellius said in an interview in February. A district task force recommended suspending entrance tests for one year and
using GPAs and ZIP codes, instead. Cassellius said the new process aims for "geographic representation" and fairness. "It was our best step forward,"
given the constraints of the pandemic, she said.

The recommendation drew parents to the streets in dueling protests last fall.

Neighborhoods vie for seats

Sarah Zaphiris, 44, a white Boston Latin School alumna in the West Roxbury
neighborhood of Boston, started a petition, which drew nearly 6,000
signatures, urging the district to go ahead with the MAP test.

"Abandoning a test for Boston's exam schools, with no viable alternative
admissions process, only causes more uncertainty and disruption, not less," she wrote.

Zaphiris' daughter, who is enrolled in a private school, is applying to
Boston exam schools, ranking Boston Latin School first. If Boston's plan
holds up in court, she'll be competing with other students in her ZIP code
based on her GPA, which Zaphiris worries will be unfair if grading practices differ among schools.

After a marathon meeting in October with passionate public comment, Boston's School Committee voted to suspend the entrance exam and adopt the new ZIP
code policy for one year. At the meeting, committee Chairman Michael Loconto was caught on a hot mic mocking the last names of Asian parents who had
signed up to testify — remarks that stung extra hard for Asian families who were already feeling targeted by the new process. Amid public outrage, he
later apologized and resigned.


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Under the school district's new ZIP code-based admissions policy, the
district projects that predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods will
gain seats in exam schools, while neighborhoods with more white and Asian
students will lose seats. For instance, under the district's simulations,
the number of exam school invitations students receive is expected to drop
from 133 to 76 in West Roxbury and from 24 to 10 in Chinatown. Neighborhoods with large Black populations, including Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan,
are projected to gain seats.

It's not clear whether those simulations will be accurate. The district's
effort to attract more underrepresented students to exam schools doesn't
look promising: Total applications dropped by 25 percent this year, to about 3,000 by mid-February, according to Monica Roberts, the district's chief of student, family and community advancement.

The district initially set a January deadline to apply. But as of early
March, district staff members were still reaching out to Boston sixth
graders who are eligible for admission but hadn't applied, according to
Andrews, the spokesperson.

Related: Getting rid of gifted programs: Trying to teach students at all
levels together in one class

In Boston and elsewhere, many Asian families and advocates have argued that the movement to diversify the schools ignores the fact that the Asian
community is very diverse economically and ethnically.

Asian American advocates who are supporting Boston's new admissions process argued that lower-income Asian American students don't have money to hire
private tutors or to take private test prep courses that would give them an edge on entrance exams.

"Many Asian students are children of restaurant, hotel, home care and nail
salon workers, and their families struggle with access to education,"
Carolyn Chou, a steering committee member of the Asian Pacific Islanders
Civic Action Network, said in a news release about the lawsuit.

One reason applications may be down this year is that, during the pandemic, Boston's public schools were closed for in-person learning, along with many community centers and after-school programs that might otherwise have
encouraged families to apply.

In January, the Rev. Willie Bodrick II, president of the Boston Network for Black Student Achievement, said the topic wasn't high on families' radars.

"The biggest priority has been school reopening," he said.

Meanwhile, the debate in Boston is far from over. The judge is scheduled to decide by April 15, and the city is beginning to examine how to handle
admissions next year, which are already hotly contested.

If Boston goes forward with admissions as planned, Espinoza-Madrigal said,
he hopes "that the academic success of the entering class will make clear
that the quality of the education will not suffer if we adopt more
democratic admissions criteria."

"We believe there is no tension between diversity and academic excellence," he said.





【 在 toddler (toad) 的大作中提到: 】
: A golden ticket: Efforts to diversify Boston's elite high schools spur
: and outrage
: Exam schools loom large as symbols of opportunity and inequality in
: public schools. Now, the nation's twin crises are shaking them to their
: core.
: IMage: Protesters call for Boston schools to keep admission exam for elite
: schools outside of the Boston Latin School on Oct. 18, 2020.
: Protesters call for Boston to keep an admissions exam for elite public
: schools, including Boston Latin School, on Oct. 18.Jessica Rinaldi /
: ...................


【 在 costco (我是一袋天蕉) 的大作中提到: 】
: 不要作无谓的挣扎,这种事情在美帝已经不可逆转




【 在 GreatCanada (拿大专业汉黑) 的大作中提到: 】
: 为啥非要在城里买房?


【 在 costco (我是一袋天蕉) 的大作中提到: 】
: 我说的跟城里城外没关系
: 美帝现在为了顺应所谓的“公平”,要把这些“不公平”取消



【 在 daydayup1 (咳咳) 的大作中提到: 】
: 这个可以想象成中国村子之间的械斗,争水源,争耕地。
: 这是亚裔和其他少数族裔之间争教育资源。
: 【 在 toddler (toad) 的大作中提到: 】
: : A golden ticket: Efforts to diversify Boston's elite high schools spur
: hope
: : and outrage
: : Exam schools loom large as symbols of opportunity and inequality in
: American
: : public schools. Now, the nation's twin crises are shaking them to their
: : core.
: : IMage: Protesters call for Boston schools to keep admission exam for
: : schools outside of the Boston Latin School on Oct. 18, 2020.
: : Protesters call for Boston to keep an admissions exam for elite public
: : schools, including Boston Latin School, on Oct. 18.Jessica Rinaldi /
: Boston
: : ...................